Q&A on the News

Q: Is it legal for an employer in the state of Georgia to compel an employee who has served on jury duty to surrender the check for jury service to the employer? If the employer takes the jury pay from an employee, is the employer or employee required to report the jury pay on its tax return?

—James M. Perdue, Dawsonville

A: Georgia Code 34-1-3 prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining or otherwise penalizing an employee for attending a judicial proceeding in response to a court order or process. In 1989, Georgia's then-Attorney General Michael Bowers, citing O.C.G.A. 34-1-3, said, "The prohibition against penalizing an employee must mean that the employee would not suffer any financial loss by serving on jury duty."

However, Bowers said, “it is not required that the employee receive extra financial reward for serving on jury duty.” Therefore, “the employer would be authorized to offset the employee’s salary by the amount of funds the employee receives for jury service so that the combined amounts equal his gross salary or wages,” he said.

As there have been no statute changes on this issue since 1989, Bowers’ opinion would still stand, Katelyn McCreary, communications director for Attorney General Chris Carr, told Q&A on the News via email.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, all jury duty pay should be reported as taxable income under “other income” on Form 1040. When an employee receives regular wages while serving on jury duty, they may turn their jury pay over to their employer. In those cases, the employee must still report the income but can claim the amount given to the employer as an adjustment to income, the IRS states.

Fast Copy News Service wrote this column; Keith Still contributed. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).